Are Discretionary Referendums on EU Integration Becoming 'Politically Obligatory'? The Cases of France and the UK

Aude Bicquelet, Helen Addison
2017 Parliamentary Affairs  
Recent studies have suggested that governments may call referendums on matters of EU integration because contextual circumstances make direct votes 'politically obligatory' as ruling politicians increasingly believe them to be the 'appropriate' decision-making mechanism. This study contests this claim based on the observation of two countries, France and the UK. The constitutions of both countries enshrine different, long-standing and equally legitimate interpretations of the concepts of
more » ... gnty and political representation. Legislators draw on these conflicting interpretations to argue for either direct public ballots or parliamentary vote, and they deploy their arguments strategically to build a rhetorical case for the decision-making mechanism that suits their party's interests. Contrary to the 'politically obligatory referendum' hypothesis, governments have greater freedom to choose whether and when to use referendums strategically to achieve their domestic and European policy objectives.
doi:10.1093/pa/gsx023 fatcat:7ydnwiegg5hkjasskmuzirl6pe